Nightshade foods: Delectable or the cause of constant pain?
BY SUZY COHEN Dear Pharmacist
Saturday, April 14, 2012
4/14/12 at 5:24 AM
Dear Pharmacist: I live in chronic pain; it's usually my joints, but now my nerves are involved. My tests are all normal, and my doctor gives me Celebrex, Vicodin and Flexeril. I feel doped up and still live in pain. What else can I do? - B.C., Sanibel Island, Fla.
Avoid eating a certain class of foods known to ignite pain in the muscles, joints and nerves. Nightshades belong to the Solanaceae family, and I bet you eat a nightshade food each day.
The most common are tomatoes, white potatoes (potato starch is found in hundreds of medications), eggplant and peppers. Tabasco sauce, which contains large amounts of heat-causing "capsicum annum," ranks up there. Paprika is a sneaky one, showing up in flavoring mixes or under "added spices" on the label. Other nightshades include goji berries, Cape gooseberries, ground cherries and garden huckleberries. We all know cigarettes cause cellular damage, but they are also a nightshade!
So what's the problem with some our favorite farmers market heroes? Well, nightshades contain alkaloids that accumulate and block an enzyme called "cholinesterase" lighting the body's pain fuse: muscle spasm, aches, joint pain, tenderness, hip pain, inflammation and stiff movement. Heartburn, too! And you thought heartburn was related to a Prilosec-deficiency, didn't you? Symptoms may dissipate in a few days or weeks if there is no more consumption, but the problem is that we keep eating nightshades in almost every meal. The body never gets clear of them, so it stays "on fire" 24/7 despite all your pain-relievers.
If you're otherwise healthy, eat up! But if you live in chronic pain, or have rheumatoid arthritis, try completely eliminating nightshades for three solid months. Hang in there because it takes a few weeks before the pain even begins to retreat. I've read anecdotal reports where some people kiss pain goodbye forever, just by avoiding nightshades. Can you imagine? Complete pain relief: It costs nothing, and the only downside is an occasional craving.